The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Lewis, May 3, 1805

Friday May 3rd 1805.

The morning being very could we did not set out as early as usual; ice formed on a kettle of water 1/4 of an inch thick. the snow has melted generally in the bottoms, but the hills still remain covered. on the lard side at the distance of 2 miles we passed a curious collection of bushes which had been tyed up in the form of a faciene and standing on end in the open bottom it appeared to be about 30 feet high and ten or twelve feet in diameter, this we supposed to have been placed there by the Indians, as a sacrefice for some purpose. The wind continued to blow hard from the West but not so strong as to compel us to ly by. Capt. Clark walked on shore and killed an Elk which he caused to be butched by the time I arrived with the party, here we halted and dined being about 12 OCk. our usual time of halting for that purpose. after dinner Capt. Clark pursued his walk, while I continued with the party, it being a rule which we had established, never to be absent at the same time from the party. the plains or high lands are much less elivated than they were, not being more than from 50 to 60 feet above the river bottom, which is also wider than usual being from 5 to 9 ms. in width; traces of the ancient beds of the river are visible in many places through the whole extent of this valley. since the hills have become lower the appearance of the stratas of coal burnt hills and pumice stone have in a great measure ceased; I saw none today. we saw vast quantities of Buffaloe, Elk, deer principally of the long tale kind, Antelope or goats, beaver, geese, ducks, brant and some swan. near the entrance of the river mentioned in the 10th course of this day, we saw an unusual number of Porcupines from which we determined to call the river after that anamal, and accordingly denominated it Porcupine river. this stream discharges itself into the Missouri on the Stard. side 2000 miles above the mouth of the latter, it is a beatifull bold runing stream, 40 yards wide at it's entrance; the water is transparent, it being the first of this discription that I have yet seen discharge itself into the Missouri; before it enters a large sand bar through which it discharges itself into the missouri it's banks and bottom are formed of a stiff blue and black clay; it appears to be navigable for canoes and perogues at this time and I have no doubt but it might be navigated with boats of a considerable size in high water. it's banks appear to be from 8 to ten feet high and seldom overflow; from the quantity of water furnished by this river, the appearance of the country, the direction it pursues, and the situation of it's entrance, I have but little doubt but it takes it's source not far from the main body of the Suskashawan river, and that it is probably navigable 150 miles; perhaps not very distant from that river. should this be the case, it would afford a very favorable communication to the Athebaskay country, from whence the British N. W. Company derive so large a portion of their valuable furs.- Capt. Clark who ascended this river several miles and passed it above where it entered the hills informed me on his return that he found the general width of the bed of the river about one hundred yards, where he passed the river the bed was 112 yards wide, the water was knee deep and 38 yard in width; the river which he could observe from the rising grounds for about 20 miles, bore a little to the East of North. there was a considerable portion of timber in the bottom lands of this river. Capt Clark also met with limestone on the surface of the earth in the course of his walk. he also saw a range of low mountains at a distance to the W of N , their direction being N. W. the country in the neighborhood of this river, and as far as the eye can reach, is level, fertile, open and beatifull beyond discription. 1/4 of a mile above the entrance of this river a large creek falls in which we called 2000 mile creek. I sent Rubin Fields to examine it, he reported it to be a bold runing stream, it's bed 30 yards wide. we proceeded about 3 miles abov this creek and encamped on the Stard. shore. I walked out a little distance and met with 2 porcupines which were feeding on the young willow which grow in great abundance on all the sandbars; this anamal is exceedingly clumsy and not very watchfull I approached so near one of them before it percieved me that I touched it with my espontoon.- found the nest of a wild goose among some driftwood in the river from which we took three eggs. this is the only nest we have met with on driftwood, the usual position is the top of a broken tree, sometimes in the forks of a large tree but almost invariably, from 15 to 20 feet or upwards high.-